Bautista, Encarnacion, Cecil make All-Star squad
Delabar among five Final Vote candidates seeking last spot on AL roster
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are set to be well represented at the upcoming All-Star Game as three players were named to the Midsummer Classic on Saturday evening.
Right fielder Jose Bautista, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and left-handed reliever Brett Cecil are all headed to Citi Field in New York on July 16.
Bautista was voted in through fan balloting for the third consecutive year, while Encarnacion was named to the team by his peers and Cecil was a personal selection of American League manager Jim Leyland.
There's a chance a fourth Blue Jays player gets added as right-hander Steve Delabar was named as one of five relievers on the Final Vote, which will decide the last spot of the AL All-Star team through fan balloting.
"It's a great feeling when you go to the All-Star Game when you're recognized by your fans, the peers or elected by the manager," Bautista said. "Obviously in my case, I got voted in by the fans, and it's a great feeling when that happens.
"I feel very honored, humbled and also proud to be elected. I have to thank all of the fans for all of the votes. It takes a lot to either vote at the stadium or home on the computer, so I appreciate it a lot."
Bautista has been named to the All-Star team in each of the past four seasons. He's enjoying another productive year at the plate despite struggling at times during June.
The 32-year-old is tied for seventh in home runs (20), third in walks (47), 10th in OPS (.872) and 12th in slugging (.511). The level of consistency Bautista has been able to achieve each season is even more remarkable considering at one time, he was the only player in Major League history who appeared on five different Major League rosters in one season.
Bautista officially broke out in 2010 while with the Blue Jays when he enjoyed a 54-homer season. He has since won a pair of Hank Aaron Awards for his offensive production and remains one of the league's most feared hitters.
"It's a good feeling; my hard work is paying off," Bautista said. "I just have to keep doing it, but ultimately I think my success is going to be dictated by the success of my team and so far, we haven't been able to make it to the playoffs or play for the championship. But hopefully that changes in the near future."
Encarnacion will appear at his first All-Star Game after being a surprise snub in 2012. He arguably has been the Blue Jays' most valuable player this season and ranks among the league leaders in virtually every major offensive category.
The 30-year-old finished Toronto's game against Minnesota on Saturday afternoon ranked third in home runs (23), sixth in extra-base hits (38), seventh in runs (54) and ninth in OPS (.877). It continues his banner season which included an appearance with the Dominican Republic during the recent World Baseball Classic.
American League roster
|C||Joe Mauer, MIN|
|1B||Chris Davis, BAL|
|2B||Robinson Cano, NYY|
|3B||Miguel Cabrera, DET|
|SS||J.J. Hardy, BAL|
|OF||Mike Trout, LAA|
|OF||Adam Jones, BAL|
|OF||Jose Bautista, TOR|
|DH||David Ortiz, BOS|
|RHP||Clay Buchholz*, BOS|
|LHP||Brett Cecil, TOR|
|RHP||Bartolo Colon@, OAK|
|RHP||Jesse Crain*, CWS|
|RHP||Yu Darvish, TEX|
|RHP||Felix Hernandez, SEA|
|RHP||Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA|
|RHP||Justin Masterson, CLE|
|RHP||Joe Nathan, TEX|
|LHP||Glen Perkins@, MIN|
|RHP||Mariano Rivera, NYY|
|LHP||Chris Sale, CWS|
|RHP||Max Scherzer, DET|
|RHP||Justin Verlander, DET|
|C||Jason Castro, HOU|
|C||Salvador Perez, KC|
|1B||Prince Fielder, DET|
|2B||Jason Kipnis, CLE|
|2B||Dustin Pedroia, BOS|
|2B||Ben Zobrist, TB|
|SS||Jhonny Peralta, DET|
|3B||Manny Machado, BAL|
|OF||Nelson Cruz, TEX|
|OF||Alex Gordon, KC|
|OF||Torii Hunter, DET|
|DH||Edwin Encarnacion, TOR|
Encarnacion's rise to the top has been just as remarkable as the one Bautista took. Encarnacion was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays in 2010, but cleared waivers and remained with the organization. It wasn't until late in the '11 campaign that his career began to take off and he has been one of the game's elite power hitters since.
"That's big, they told me I was supposed to be there last year and this year they voted for me, so it's good," Encarnacion said of being voted in by the players.
"I just think about playing the game the way I have to play, play right and play hard. That's all I can do and I feel excited now that the players voted for me and playing my first All-Star Game."
Cecil's appearance at Midsummer Classic comes during a season in which he wasn't even guaranteed a spot on the Blue Jays' roster. Cecil had to earn a job during Spring Training and wasn't informed he was heading north until one of the final days during camp.
The 27-year-old is a former starter who was converted into a reliever late last season. He experienced a drop in velocity a couple of years ago, but now consistently throws in the mid-90s while also possessing a devastating curveball that has proved lethal to his opponents.
Cecil set a franchise record earlier this year by going through 40 at-bats without surrendering a hit. He also went through a span of 20 innings without allowing a run and has become one of the elite left-handed relievers in the league.
His nomination is a testament to the job Toronto's bullpen has done this season. The group of relievers was supposed to be a weakness, but instead turned into the club's biggest strength. Since May 29, the Blue Jays' relief corps leads the Majors in ERA (1.45), opponents' average (.177) and WHIP (0.92).
"I want to say that every guy in that bullpen deserves to be on that team," said Cecil, who is 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA in 44 innings. "I can't say enough about those guys, they've done a heck of a job the whole season and I think every single one of them deserves to be in my place. But I'm sure glad to be representing the Blue Jays and our bullpen down in New York City. Hopefully I can represent them well."
Until Thursday, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com for the final player for each League's All-Star roster.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday, July 16. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Bautista, Encarnacion and Cecil will represent the most players Toronto has sent to an All-Star Game since the club had three in 2010.